Preparing trees and shrubs for winter

Q. Is there anything that I can do to prepare my trees and shrubs for winter?

A.The best thing that can be done to prepare your plants for winter is to make sure they enter the cold winter months with plenty of moisture.  It is easy and quite common to forget about woody plant maintenance as we clean up spent annuals and perennials.   Established trees and shrubs require approximately one inch of water per week.  If Mother Nature does not provide this amount in a week, it will be necessary to supplement.  This will need to be done as long as the plants are actively growing.  Newly planted woody plants should be monitored carefully throughout the winter months.  Be especially diligent with woody plants that are located in a sheltered area and may not receive adequate amounts of snow or rain.  During periods of weather with little or no precipitation, you will need to apply supplemental water on mild winter days that remain above freezing. 

Pruning at this time of year can encourage new growth that may be damaged by cool temperatures over the winter.  As a general rule, fertilizing trees and shrubs isn’t necessary unless your plants are exhibiting signs of nutrient deficiency.  In this case, fertilizing is best done in the spring as the plants begin to actively grow.  Applying a 2-3” layer of compost in the spring is sufficient for most trees and shrubs.